If the offseason started today....

A lot can change over the course of the next two weeks.  So I'm going to lay out my offseason plans as if I was A.J. Smith, then I will revisit them after weeks 16 and 17.

 

DEFENSE:

-Move Eric Weddle to Nickel Corner where he can face up against smaller, quicker slot receivers and running backs instead of tight ends.  Coming out of college it was debatable whether he would make a better corner or safety.  Weddle's positives are smarts, he's a ballhawk and he's very quick.  His main downside is that he's small (short and thin).  In his first season the main thing I noticed about Weddle is that he was a really good blitzer.  In his second season I've noticed teams taking advantage with his height by throwing jump balls in the end zone (Tony Gonzalez and Dante Rosario stand as two big examples).  Moving him to nickel allows him to blitz more often and puts him on players like Welker and Anthony Gonzalez rather than big tight ends.

-Move Antonio Cromartie to Free Safety.  Cromartie has the size, speed and strength to match up against tight ends and catch up if he makes a mistake with over-the-top coverage.  This would also put Cro in the position to "jump" a bunch of routes and rack up the interceptions.  Although it would be his first year at the position, I would view this move as an improvement and could see Antonio eventually turning into an Ed Reed-like playmaker on the defense.

-Move Antoine Cason to Starting Corner.  The kid is talented enough and doesn't lack any size/strength to play the position.  He deserves to get as much time on the field as possible.

-Either decide that Siler or Waters is ready to take the starting job over Wilhelm or add somebody who can by draft, trade or free agency.  Laurinaitis out of Ohio State would work for me as a first round pick.

-Find a Nose Tackle in the draft that can take some snaps away from Jamal Williams and Igor Olshanky. 

-Replace Clinton Hart.  Simple as that.  He's a good player and a nice guy, but he's getting torched as a strong safety.  Starting Steve Gregory here is a possible stopgap, but I'd prefer to pick up someone through free agency or the draft.

 

Continue Reading for Offense and Draft Priorities

OFFENSE:

-Evaluate Corey Clark.  If he's more promising than Clary, pencil him in as the RT and move Clary to RG to replace Goff. 

-Move Chris Chambers to Slot Receiver.  Move Floyd to the other starting spot opposite VJ.  Shop Buster Davis around (although 1st round money with his production and health record probably won't bring in anything).

-Move Jacob Hester back to HB and put Mike Tolbert back in as the FB.  Show the kid some confidence and teach him how to block (especially pass-blocking).

-Find a third weapon to use as a HB.  At this point I think putting Sproles in as your third HB is dangerous.  One reason is that he's an injury-risk every time he touches the ball, so you may want to limit him to kick and punt returns.  The other reason is that if Hester and/or LT gets hurt Sproles will be forced to carry at least part of the load (see previous sentence).

-SPLIT CARRIES amongst 2-3 running backs.  If one of the really impressive college HBs (Chris Wells, Javon Ringer, Shonn Greene, etc) fell to us in the first round I wouldn't be entirely against grabbing them.  We could start off the year splitting carries between LT and Hester, while working in the rookie more throughout the year.  This would show the NFL that we're not ready to become a finesse/passing team and want to keep a focus on the running game.

-Find somebody else to call the plays.  Not entirely necessary, but my personal opinion about Norv means I think next year either he should be calling the plays as the offensive coordinator or should hire an offensive coordinator to take that responsibility from him.  Obviously Cam Cameron is the best option out there for us.

-Find a spot for Legedu Naanee.  Is he a WR?  Is he a TE?  Is he an H-back?  Doesn't matter, we simply need to find a way to get the ball in this kid's hands on the field.  See how he runs, throws and catches.  How would anyone defend a Wildcat formation with Naanee and LT?  Personally I think Naanee's potential is as a poor man's Gates, with the speed to beat linebackers and the height/strength to beat corners and most safeties.  We should be trying 4 receiver spread formations with Naanee, Gates, Floyd and Jackson.  Nobody has 4 corners big enough to cover all 4 of those guys, which means safeties need to help and leaves open holes for a running back to run through.

 

So there you have it.  A bunch of things that I would at least try for next season.  They're not all ncessary moves but I think each one could result in more positives than doing nothing.  Unless we add somebody significant through free angencyI think our draft priorities should be MLB, HB, SS, DT, T, G, C in that order.

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